New post, new subject.

So, I haven’t posted for ages, life and work got in the way. I’m going to try and post a bit more this year, on whatever subject comes to mind.

I’ve been doing a bunch of work on my motorbike recently, so figured I’d post up some of it as much for my own benefit to keep a record of stuff I’ve been doing. This won’t be of much interest unless you’re a biker but here you go, how to convert fog and spot lights to HID bulbs for more light and less power drain. Handy for the winter months.

With the hours I’ve been working over recent months, I don’t get to see a lot of sunshine over the winter and my commute is pretty much in the dark for several months. I work away on location quite a lot too and, as I don’t have a car, my bike is my year round transport. The GS has been great for this, but I’ve found myself wanting a bit more light on the country lanes ( already have both the dip and main beams converted to 50w HID), plus riding with my heated jacket on and grips on max I thought cutting the current drain down a bit might be a good idea. So I decided to upgrade the fogs and spots on the bike to HID and, being a cheapskate decided to do the job myself.

I thought I’d post up some pictures of what I did as I couldn’t find much in the way of details on what anyone else had done.

The lights I had fitted were Hella FF50 spots and Micro DE fogs on a Migsel light bar, a pretty standard setup for the GS. The problem was where to mount the extra 4 ballasts neatly, and how to physically convert the lamps themselves.

The FF50′s were easy to convert, the HID bulb drops straight in, I just had to cut a suitable size hole for the grommet to go through. I thought of cutting the high voltage cables and fitting them through the standard holes but decided against that. A 3/4″ (22mm) forstner drill bit made a neat hole easily, and I sealed up the two little holes in the, now unused, original grommet with some shoe goo glue which I had in a drawer.

The Micro De lamps weren’t as easy to convert as the bulbs don’t simply drop into place. There are a few ways people have done this, all of which are a bit of a bodge. Les Wassall at HID50.com converts these with some custom metal plates which made the job the work of a few minutes. You simply unscrew the original bulb mounting plate, drop two new plates in, which creates a recess for the hid burner, fit the burner and then the third plate which holds the burner securely in place. You then use the original screws to screw through all three plates and the burner is securely held in the perfect position. There’s obviously been a lot of trial and error to get them right so to be fair to Les I’m not posting pictures of the plates. He charges a very reasonable £30 for two sets of these and they made the conversion so much easier. Well worth the money.

Once the burner’s in place, you need to get the wiring through the end cap. Les told me how he does it and I did the same thing. Drill the wire holes in the rubber cap out to 5mm then, using a scalpel or craft knife, cut through from the edge to the holes. Fit the wires into place and glue the cut rubber together again. I used superglue for this. You can see the freshly cut and glued slots below.

Once the glue had dried, I refitted the cap, zip tied it in place.

Then used more Shoe Goo to seal around the wiring to make sure it was waterproof.

I then fitted some conduit around the cables for abrasion protection.

Now I had the lamps converted I needed a neat solution for the ballasts. The kits I bought had slim ballasts. When I converted the main and dip beams the ballasts were the bigger type and I opted for 35w slim kits to make fitting the ballasts easier. I had some aluminium plate which I cut to fit under the Migsel light bar and drilled holes so the same fitting bolts would go through both. The idea was that the light bar, lamps and ballasts would all be one complete unit so that, if necessary, it could be easily taken off. I planned to use AMP connectors on the wiring so that 2 bolts and 2 connectors could be quickly undone if, for example, I wanted to go offroading and not worry about breaking the lights if I dropped the bike. It didn’t quite work out like that though.

The plate wasn’t going to be big enough for all 6 ballasts so I had to be a bit creative. I decided to use the nuts as spaces and create a gap between the Migsel bar and the plate so that the thin ballasts could go between them and the thicker ballasts and the igniters could go underneath. On my desk it looked like it should all fit, so I drilled the holes and bolted everything in place.

I built up the plate with everything on and tidied the wiring, ziptying it in place and went out to the bike.

It didn’t fit.

Now, it’s been very cold and wet here over the past week, and my garage is a bit away from the house and has no power. This meant I didn’t go and check things on the bike as often as I would normally. Schoolboy error, I hear you cry. Yes, I was being lazy. Not a good idea in retrospect.

Bugger.

The big ballasts of the headlights wouldn’t fit with dual-lock because of the heads of the bolts holding the thin ballasts.

So, take it all apart again and replace the bolts with dual-lock. This time it fitted fine.

Now for the wiring on the bike.

As I said earlier, I planned to use AMP superseal connectors for quickly taking the light bar off if needed. I spent a solid afternoon fiddling with the damned things and used the backup spare sets I bought as I gradually broke bits of them trying to get it right. I finished a set in the end and it was at about the time I’d been doing all that faffing around that I realised that to take the light bar off you need to get a spanner on top of the two bolts. To do that you have to take off the tank and the front upper mudguard, which means taking off the indicators too. It’s not exactly the ‘undo two bolts’ plan that I’d originally envisaged. If you’re going to have to do all that, the AMP connectors are a bit pointless as, with the tank off, you can just undo the wiring and pull it through.

I decided to redo the wiring as a separate subloom for the spots. I ran the sense wires from the high and low beams along with the power wires inside another piece of conduit to keep it neat and ran it to the fusebox I have mounted on top of the air filter housing.

I also did another job I’d been meaning to do, which was to redo the accessory fuse block and it’s associated mess of spaghetti. I’d bought a plate from ruggedroads.com a while back so redid the accessory wiring and mounted the centech fuse block on the plate with the relays from the battery to the fuse block (so it’s switched power) and the relays for the fogs and spots all mounted on the back of the plate with dual-lock. I also had some grommets that a kind member of the forum sent me a while ago after I commented on how neatly he’d installed his own centech panel. My install is pretty much a mirror of his. I drilled holes in the plate, fitted the grommets and it keeps all the wiring neatly out of the way and protects the wires too.

While doing that I tracked down the intermittent electrical fault I’d been unable to find previously. Turns out two of the fuse holders on the centech panel were broken where they’re soldered into the circuit board and literally came off in my hand (honest officer) when I pulled the fuses out. Because of this I currently only have 3 working fuse circuits until I either souce some of the solder-in space connectors or replace the fuse block. It’s about 3 years old so I’m not too impressed to be honest, but I’ll try repairing it before I consider replacing it, particularly now I’ve designed the install round it.

So, there you are. much neater wiring and much brighter lights. Costs are as follows:

35w slim ballast HID H3 bulb kit (for DE’s) £35
35w slim ballast HID H1 bulb kit (for FF50′s) £35
Les Wassall Adapter plates (for DE’s) £30
Accessory plate from rugged roads £10
Total £110

On top of that was assorted wiring and connectors. I splurged and bought some decent crimping pliers and a new wire stripper, crimps and wiring. You may not need this so I didn’t include it in the cost.

The resulting increase in light is impressive to say the least.

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